Queen – “Hot Space” (1982)

queenHot space?  More like “hot mess”, am I right?  Queen were once a band that refused to use synthesizers on their albums.  They went so far as to explicitly state as much in the liner notes of their records.  This changed on 1980’s The Game — where synthesizers crept in for the first time.  But on 1982’s Hot Space, Queen were positively obsessed with synthesizers, and worse yet… drum machines.  As a result, a good portion of Hot Space pretty much sucks.  The first five songs are crap.  Queen broke the first rule of rock… which is to rock.  There are so many things that I would rather do than listen to the first half of Hot Space.  I’d rather share a sleeping bag with a porcupine.  I’d rather wear a thong made of steel wool.

The second half of Hot Space is a little more bearable.  Brian May’s Put Out The Fire is the only song on the album that at least attempts to rock.  Meanwhile, lighter songs like Calling All Girls and Las Palabras de Amor (The Words of Love) house the album’s best melodies.  Hot Space‘s penultimate cut Cool Cat shows off Freddie Mercury’s smooth falsetto, though the song itself is average at best.

Queen tacked on Under Pressure, their classic collaboration with David Bowie, to the end of this record.  The song had previously been released in 1981 as a stand alone single, and had also appeared on the North American version of their Greatest Hits compilation (also from 1981).  The inclusion of Under Pressure here is a most welcome addition to an otherwise disappointing Queen release.

Queen were a home run hitting band.  Everyone knows that when you swing for the fences all the time you get a lot of home runs, but you also strike out a lot.  Most of the Hot Space album is a big swing and a miss.  The overabundance of synths and drum machines ruin a good portion of the album.  I think Queen were emboldened by the chart-topping success of Another One Bites The Dust — a disco-style tune from 1980’s The Game.  Queen tried too hard to repeat that success with more “dance” tunes.  They miscalculated what the public wanted and expected from Queen.  It was a bad idea and a waste of their talents.  On a positive note, the songs from Hot Space came off MUCH better live than in studio.  My score: C+

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